The town of Kingsville has laid out its plans for enforcing By-Law 96-2020, which is a bylaw to prohibit and regulate public nuisances related to odours and lighting from the cultivation of plants and cannabis. "Greenhouse Owners that utilize grow lights and who have not responded or presented light abatement strategies to the municipality may be subject to further enforcement," Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos said in a release. The by-law is controversial since it asks for a 100 percent abatement, which according to the growers represented by the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, is impossible.
On October 26, 2020, Kingsville Town Council approved and adopted the By-Law. In November, a Town Hall style meeting was organized to provide information and clarify expectations with over thirty Greenhouse Owners in attendance. Greenhouse Owners/Operators were informed that light abatement methods were to be installed immediately according to the Bylaw.
According to the Kingsville Town representatives, since discussions began, the overwhelming majority of commercial growers have proven themselves receptive to working with the municipality to move their operations towards compliance. They have presented plans, purchase receipts, and anticipated timeframes for installation to the Town’s By-Law Enforcement Officer. "The Town is satisfied they are making reasonable efforts to become compliant as quickly as possible. These greenhouse operators will not be subject to fines under the By-Law, provided their plans remain intact and on track with what was presented," they state.
"It's important to recognize that many growers have already taken steps and made installations in support of Kingsville's public nuisance bylaw," acknowledged Mayor Nelson Santos. "These acts of compliance are making an impact in responding to our community's concerns."
The remaining greenhouse owners that utilize grow lights and who have not responded or presented light abatement strategies to the municipality may be subject to further enforcement, the town release states.
Complaints must be filed through an online system with the Town and the By-Law Enforcement Officer will conduct an investigation and determine if further enforcement is required.
“I had informed Town Council and the public when the Bylaw was passed that the process of enforcement could take a couple of years before we will see dark skies,” said Kingsville CAO John Norton. “We have already been questioned on the legality of our Bylaw so we have to do enforcement carefully. On the other hand, we have seen a very positive response from the growers who have responded to the Bylaw by ordering curtains and beginning the process of becoming compliant. So I think we are heading in the right direction.”
The by-law is controversial since its asks for a 100 per cent abatement - something that disables greenhouse growers to vent, which is essential. That's why earlier already growers organisation OGVG said to be concerned that the recently enacted by-laws may be proven to be both impractical and unenforceable. "This is a situation that OGVG believes everyone involved would like to avoid. The realities of Canadian winters, such as low light levels and temperatures, mean that growers must provide plants with additional light and heat to support their growth. As a critical source of fresh local vegetables during the COVID-19 pandemic, that goal is only becoming more important."
In neighbouring town Leamington the same debate and law-making is going on - something the Town council said was forced to do after receiving 1,300 submissions from local residents, almost all demanding aggressive curbs on the light pollution created by greenhouses. Ever since January 1st the lights are required to be shut off between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m, but here the council allowed ceiling curtain openings up to 10 per cent between 2 am and 6 am - rules that resemble the example provided from the Netherlands. Another provision on sidewalls and endwalls is set to take effect on April 1, 2021, while the provision on ceiling curtains begins October 1, 2021.